District Man Sentenced to 22 ½ Years in Prison For Obstruction of Justice And Related Charges Following Home Invasion Defendant Sought to Destroy Evidence
WASHINGTON – Darnell Mason, 22, of Washington, D.C., has been sentenced to 22 ½ years in prison for obstruction of justice and related charges in connection with actions he took following an armed home invasion, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.
Mason was found guilty by a jury of obstruction of justice, tampering with physical evidence, and other charges in December 2014, following a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. He was sentenced on Feb. 27, 2015 by the Honorable William M. Jackson. Following his prison term, Mason will be placed on five years of supervised release.
According to the government’s evidence at trial, a group of men, who were wearing ski masks, carried out the home invasion at about 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 3, 2013. They saw a taxicab dropping off the victim in the 5700 block of Blaine Street NE. They followed the victim into his home. Once inside, they held the victim, the victim’s fiancé, and the victim’s mother at gunpoint for approximately 40 minutes while they ransacked the home and stole various items. Those items included cash, electronics, and the fiancé’s engagement ring, which the fiancé unsuccessfully tried to hide from the defendants during the burglary.
The men left the home in two vehicles that belonged to the victims and deposited the proceeds from the burglary inside of a vacant home on Raleigh Street SE. Worried that the police might recover fingerprints from the vehicles they had stolen, the men then drove the vehicles into a field adjacent to an elementary school on Alabama Avenue SE, set the vehicles on fire, and retreated on foot to the vacant home on Raleigh Street SE.
One of the men was wearing a GPS tracking device in connection with his supervised release in an unrelated robbery case. Members of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) used data generated by that device to track the men to the home on Raleigh Street SE. The police barricaded the residence and ultimately arrested a group of men, including Mason, in or near the residence. The police also recovered most of the proceeds of the burglary, along with several ski masks, from the Raleigh Street home. The police did not recover the engagement ring.
The government’s evidence at trial showed that Mason, while incarcerated at the District of Columbia Jail, called an associate on two occasions and, using veiled language, instructed the associate to return to the attic of the Raleigh Street SE home and recover the gun that was used to commit the home invasion at Blaine Street NE. Despite repeated searches of the Raleigh Street SE residence by the police, that gun was never found.
After a four-week trial, the jury convicted Mason of multiple counts of destruction of property and tampering with physical evidence, in connection with the destruction of the victims’ vehicles. The jury also convicted Mason of two counts of obstruction of justice, in connection with Mason’s phone calls from jail. And the jury convicted Mason of unlawful entry, in connection with Mason’s hiding out in the Raleigh Street SE home. The jury was unable to reach a verdict, however, on the charges against Mason for the home invasion itself.
Two co-defendants earlier pled guilty to charges in the case.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen praised the work of the detectives and officers who investigated the case for the Metropolitan Police Department. He also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegals Richard Cheatham and Antoinette Sakamsa, Litigation Technology Specialists Aneela Bhatia and Leif Hickling, Victim/Witness Advocates Jim Brennan and Jennifer Clark, and former intern Harris Davidson. Finally, he commended Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ben Schrader and Karen Seifert, who investigated and prosecuted the case.